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How to Pump a Little Health Into Your Content Marketing

pump a little health into your content marketing

Have you noticed how many people have been hitting the gym and making an attempt to delete the junk from their diets the past couple of weeks? It’s definitely a resolution revolution these first few weeks of January, which means it’s the perfect time to set some goals for pumping a little health into your content. Here are five ideas for how to do just that:

Put your content on a diet.

Someone sent me a list of the 25 most common typos and copy mistakes last week. One of those tips stuck out – look out for redundancies such as centered around. If you read that correctly, you’re saying the same thing twice. It’s actually centered on. But this is a great point. We need to trim the redundancies out of our copy. So, I challenge you to see how much you can trim your content.

As Peter Shankman said last week in his recap of his year to 10 percent, we should focus on eating meat and vegetables and leave out the carbs. Redundant words and overused jargon are just like the carbs; they may up the word count, but they do nothing for the health of your content. Simple sentence structure with simple words hits much harder.

Introduce quality supplements.

Content marketing is based on building an audience from people searching for solutions via the search engines. As you know, there’s also been a focus on quality with search algorithm changes and smarter content consumers.

It’s getting more crowded out there in the online marketing space (kind of like the gyms this time of year), so it’s important that we introduce some quality supplements to our every day link bait articles and blog posts.

Your audience is searching for you. Give them video. Give them a simple slideshow or infographic. Anything that tells the story in a new way and shakes things up. Supplements are meant to enhance what you are already doing. Make this the year that you introduce that e-book series or start that podcast.

Stop doing the same old routine.

I’ve heard this from numerous fitness trainers – getting on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes at a pace where you can read a book doesn’t do much for your long-term fitness. Sure, you’ll burn some calories, but your body adapts. It gets used to the exercise and you hit a plateau.

That’s why you have to change the intensity, track your heart rate and introduce new exercises all the time for real fitness. Same thing with your content. Doing the same thing over and over may get you some results for a while, but unless you get out of your comfort zone, your leads and traffic may get stagnant.

Add more daily movement.

A study released in the summer of 2011 showed that people who had more “incidental activity” in their lives had better fitness levels. The same goes for your content marketing. You’ll do better peppering a little content marketing activity each day.

Scheduling in some social media and blog brainstorming blocks can really help you improve on these daily habits. Similar to the rotation of how we clean our homes (laundry day, bathroom day, deep cleaning day, etc.), we can establish content marketing habits.Try focusing on one vehicle during each “incident.”

Finished with a project? Jump into a conversation on Twitter for 10 minutes? Ask a question on Facebook. Share that news item with some takeaways in a quick blog post. Content marketing doesn’t have to be a long, arduous workout. The mini sessions really do add up, especially if you fit them in every day.

Get a professional opinion.

Want to know the number one reason workout plans and diets fail? The goals are too broad. Most exercisers start out with a goal of losing 10 pounds or more. Most dieters drastically change their habits. This much change too soon can work well for a while, but every time you slip, it’s harder to get back with the program. If the program is complicated, it’s even more difficult to get back into it.

I’m not saying that you need to outsource your content marketing or dieting for the rest of your life. However, professionals are there to help you define your goals, create plans you can stick with and give you accountability. A professional opinion can be the difference in getting results and giving up.

I personally had to enlist the help of a professional for my fitness. I tried giving this mentor up last year in January because I could do it myself. Know what happened? I barely exercised between February and November of last year. I lost all the muscle my trainer helped me develop. I lost sight of my goals for excellence. I signed back up in November and have been with the program 90 percent of the time.

In my next post, I’ll outline what you need to look for in a content marketing professional. This person can help you pump a little health into your content marketing.

If you’d like a no-obligation consultation on your content marketing strategy and goals, please contact me and I’ll put you on my calendar.

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The Quick and Dirty Guide to Writing Q & A Posts

guide to q & a blog postsIf you ever interview one of your team members or an expert for your blog or newsletter, it’s not as simple as sending them a questionnaire and then posting it to your blog. There’s a strategy behind great Q & A posts. Here’s the quick and dirty guide to writing Q & A posts.

  • The questions are more important than the answers. If you ask bad questions, your interviewee and your audience aren’t going to get much out of the experience. Spend some time tailoring the questions to your keywords, your audiences’ needs and desires and finding something new.
  • Answers need editing in the written form. Interviews on video can be a little less edited, but if you’re writing a blog post Q & A or even an e-newsletter Q & A, it’s important that you edit for the reader. Clean up the punctuation. Also be sure bullet important points and call out memorable quotes.
  • Takeaways or next steps are key. Sure, reading an interview or Q & A is great, but it’s important to call out the lessons and next steps. This makes your post or email interview actionable.

So, just like every other type of content marketing, a Q & A post requires a strategy. If you need help developing a content strategy, contact me and be sure to subscribe to my content marketing ezine –  Content Confidential.

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Why You Shouldn’t Post Your Email Content to Social Networks

click sendIf you’ve spent any time in MailChimp or Constant Contact or any of the other email programs, you have the option to post your newsletter or promotions to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Don’t click those check marks!

Why you may ask? It’s robbing you of an opportunity to offer exclusivity to your email list.

Let’s explore the mindset of a customer that opts in for your email newsletter and likes you on Facebook.

Ms. Customer signed up for your email newsletter to learn about new merchandise and to receive exclusive offers. What’s exclusive about an offer that you send out via email, post to Facebook, put on your blog and Tweet seven times in a day? Nothing.

Why should Ms. Customer stay on your email list? She’s not getting what you said you would give her – exclusive updates and discounts.

The reason for multiple channel marketing is to reach more people, but you’re doing it wrong if you’re just pressing send and blast. Each network has a specific audience with specific needs and wants. If you use that channel – whether it be email or Facebook or a community, you should always have the audience in mind.

Consider that next time you start that email newsletter. Don’t just post. Your audience is valuable and your content should be just as valuable. And it should fit the audience of the channels you decide to use.

Here’s a traditional advertising comparison – would the Lifetime network play commercials targeting young, single men? No! They are targeting women who like emotional stories.

Same thing goes for email. People are looking for news about your company in a newsletter or discounts in a promotional email. They aren’t looking for you to post the same thing to Facebook. Facebook users don’t want to see “SALE SALE SALE” in their newsfeed. They will unlike your page after too much of this.

The bottom line – consider the audience before you click send on any of your content.

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The Keys to Success in All Content Marketing & Business

Yesterday, I was honored to have an article featured in Peter Bowerman’s newsletter – the Well-Fed E-Pub. You can see the current and every issue here. I just received a response to my article on Content Marketing 101 from a writer who is looking to make the plunge into freelance writing.

She mentioned that she didn’t have the courage or the time to make the plunge yet. In my response, I mentioned to her that it does take a whole lot of guts and time to make it as a freelance writer. It takes faith and planning.

And then I realized those two keys are universal to content marketing and business. You have to have faith in your content (and your business) and you have to plan.

Content without faith or, more appropriately belief, falls flat. It doesn’t have a purpose. If you don’t believe it, then why would your audience?

The greater issue here is that you have to believe in your business whether you sell your writing (as I do) or a gadget. Belief in your product, your message and even your content are the keys to success.

Planning allows you to pour that belief into your business, your content and your clients/customers. When you plan, you think from a place of conviction and the content that stems from that is believable and engaging.

I’d like to thank that writer for reminding me of the two keys to success in all content marketing and business. Good luck to you. I hope you find your courage and time because you’ll be great when you do.

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Is Your Content Content?

content?I love homonyms. At first glance, the title of this post looks like I made a mistake, but I didn’t. The post is all about getting content with our content.

When you become content (i.e. happy, laid back) with your content (info up for discussion/sharing with your audience), you’re walking on thin ice. Sure, formulaic blogging is a great starting point, but we really need to make sure content is fresh, fierce and fetching.

Content contentment can take away from that fresh, fierce and fetching approach to producing content. So, how do you know when you’re becoming a little too content with your content? Here are a few indicators:

Too much focus on the search words

Yes, content marketers are looking to gain search engine traffic, but your content has a higher purpose – to be engaging and educational. And it’s purpose is to etch credibility and trust into your audience’s minds. When your content becomes resourceful, they come back. And that’s the secret to content marketing.

Too narrow a focus or too much repetition

Some blogs are geared toward providing tips and tricks on how to use a product. That’s all great, but it’s important to pepper in some benefits to all the features. It’s important to make connections to what’s happening in the industry or your space. Look at your category list for a little inspiration. If there’s a content gap in a category or two, and the blog is getting traffic to those categories…maybe it’s time to beef them up a bit. Adding some customer case studies or a tie-in to something cool in the news is a great way to harness attention from both your audience and the search bots.

Too much focus on product info

I make my living writing for a number of blogs and companies who know the value of content strategy. However, sometimes a theme is weak or the topic is just losing its luster. When you reach this hurdle, looking at the search terms, what the competition is doing and outside your industry spark fresh, fierce and fetching ideas.

Too little focus on your audiences’ needs

The reason someone found your content in the first place is because they have a need – a need to solve a problem, a need to learn how to do something or a need to be entertained. They searched or heard about you from someone else and need you to help them. If your content is content with only addressing audience needs once in a while, you’re missing the point of content creation and missing out on opportunities to help people. That’s why we should be in business – to help others and get paid for doing a good job. Does your content do that?

Spreading your content in too many directions

Content marketing is as much about the medium as it is about the words you use. However, I learned something from a great former boss – sometimes the medium is the problem. Let me give you a couple of real-world examples.

Email bombardment

I’m on quite a few email lists because I need to know what’s going on in the industries I write about. However, this past week I’ve been bombarded with emails for whitepapers, industry reports and other promos I don’t care to read. So, I unsubscribed from the email list of a publication I respect. But the unsubscribe didn’t work (big no-no). I’m still getting emails with content I could care less about. I’ve filed a complaint with the director of online marketing. Hopefully, this will be fixed soon.

Spinning your wheels in the wrong space

Some mediums are filled with people just like you looking for an audience. Twitter is a great example. In some cases, Twitter is a great place to converse and spread the word. But for some companies, it’s not the right place to be spending your time. I’ve witnessed recently that a client has gotten response from Twitter, but the response has not been from the right people. If the audience isn’t right, why spin your wheels?

Is your content suffering from contentment? Contact me to help you develop a strategy for getting it out of its comfort zone.

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The Invasion of the Ampersand & Other Naughty Punctuation

Ampersand-handwriting-1
Image via Wikipedia

Everyone who knows me knows I have quite a few pet peeves, but two writing related peeves really stand out – the overuse of ampersands & quotation marks for no reason.

The problem is that there is a huge invasion of text message/Twitter speak in everyday communication, and it drives me batty. And for some reason companies think they have to throw up a couple of quotation marks to distinguish their tagline.

Know what this says to me as a consumer? You’re not the real deal. That may seem a bit harsh, but I value a company that thinks about the details. Like the appropriate use of quotation marks. The purpose of these attention-grabbing symbols is to distinguish conversation in prose, quote someone or to call attention to a term that may be unfamiliar. It’s not to distinguish what your company is known for.

Moving on to the real renegade, I believe that the overuse of ampersands shows how busy we all think we are. I recently did a test to see the difference in the time it took to type this curvy, serial symbol. It takes no longer to tap a-n-d on your keyboard. So, why are we so hooked on making it part of our professional communications?

It’s the text message and Twitter in us. We have to be so pithy in our 140 or 160 characters, that this space-saver has crept into other forms of communication. But just like we had to learn to adapt our messages to Twitter and text style, we need to communicate within the style guides of our chosen medium.

Just sayin’.

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Do You Value Your Customers Above All Else?

Central Market customer service.

Maybe it’s the books I’m reading. Maybe it’s my close work with great business owners, but one thing I’ve noticed lately is a core concept for any business, especially in marketing.

We have to value our customers. Go out of our way to deliver beyond their expectations. And this starts with our words.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.

The words you use in your marketing should match your service.

I was wiring some money to my broke little sister for my mother at a local grocery store. The store has signs everywhere that say their focus is on getting us out the door faster. While I appreciate speed, I also appreciate customer service. That means I do not want to overhear your conversation with the other clerk about how bad your schedule is. I want you to focus on the task at hand. It’s what you’re paid to do. Please don’t advertise that you’re all about serving me (the customer) and then talk about your schedule issues. How shallow.

Doing the right thing is always the best policy.

I’ve been working on this project where he said, she said information has been circulated on how to maximize results. The bottom line is that we should always seek the truth and share it with our customers. Even if the project is delayed, direction changes, etc. Transparency always in the end.

A customer has a choice to do business with you.

We switched our cable and Internet provider recently because we had experienced bad service for so long with the only show in town. All we got was put on hold, a long wait for repairs and no discount for our trouble.

The new service was installed this past Monday. The technician installed it in all of our rooms, programmed the remotes and even left channel guides for us. The tell-all level of service is that the provided us a router for the Internet and set it up to make sure all was well. And we get it for a lower cost than we did with the other company.

I chose to end my relationship with the other provider because I’d had it up to here with their poor service. What really gets me is that instead of working on their service; they have been running a major ad campaign around how great their service is. Plus, they run specials all the time to attract new customers but send me bills saying my costs are going up.

We all have an obligation to never get to this point with our customers because they do have a choice. Valuing our customers ensures they will never have to use that choice.

What are you doing to show you value your customers?

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Being Nice Pays Off

I have a very big family – nine siblings to be exact. And in this family, if you’d like a favor, you ask nicely.

I’m working on a project that requires me to reach out to unknown people. I’ve received many really nice responses from several bloggers. I’ve also received some not-so-nice responses.

These not-so-nice responses have included links to blog posts about how to pitch a blogger. I understand that people get inundated with requests. A simple, “No, thank you,” works well. A link to a post you wrote ranting about people like me is rather unprofessional.

I personally think it pays to be nice. What are your thoughts? Do we play nice or try to correct others with links?

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When Your Life Becomes a Headline

Writing headlines is a required skill in my line of work. For me, it’s the most satisfying part of the creative process because it’s what people will read first.

I’ve studied headlines since I was a little girl. My parents were newspaper carriers, so I always had access to the headlines first thing every morning. Now, I scan the Internet at intervals throughout the day for headlines that catch my eye.

I think the intrigue behind headlines is that there’s life or a story behind them. That’s why I got into this business. I like hearing, sharing and creating stories.

And recently, my life became a headline. I got the heartbreaking news no mother wants to hear. I thought I was expecting a baby, but in reality it was a sort-of tumor.

The headline “It’s Not a Baby; It’s a Tumor” keeps running through my head as I recover from the surgery to remove what’s clinically called a “molar pregnancy.” The simplest explanation is that it’s a problem with fertilization and a mass forms in place of an embryo.

The clinical outlook for this condition is really good, but there were words of “possible cancer” and feelings of devastation. The next six months will be filled with testing (to get hormone levels back to normal) and waiting (we weren’t trying for a baby, but we have to wait it out for almost a year).

I’ll never look at headlines the same way again because when your life becomes one, it’s even more important to think about the story and the life behind it.

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Surviving Social Media as a Politician & Other Random News

business newsIt’s been a busy month. I’ve been working on a number of projects and am very excited to see some things coming to fruition that started several months ago. Here are a couple of tidbits I just couldn’t keep to myself.

Surviving Politics & Social Media. The Social Media Survival Guide for Political Campaigns book just launched! I worked on two chapters of this awesome guide for office-seekers to leverage social media. I worked on Chapters 3 and 7, which dealt with hiring a social media team and using social media for competitive intelligence. Definitely worth a read if you or someone you know plans to enter a political race for 2012.

Texting…Texting, One-Two. I’m on my way to Ohio to headline a conversation about text message marketing with a whole bunch of bingo hall operators! I’m really excited to learn more about charitable gaming and will share the insights next week. We’re talking about how these (mostly volunteers) can take advantage of a simple, and effective marketing tool called the lil ole text message.

Back on the Business Beat. My first real topic or as we journalists call it “beat” was 10 years ago this year! In Advanced Reporting, I was assigned the “business beat.” At the time, I thought it was a drag and a half. Now, it’s how I make my living. Thank you to the teacher who saw that in me!

I’m now writing for a local publication called What’s Around Town Metro Jackson. It’s a weekly newspaper/mag hybrid with all kinds of tips and a rockin’ Facebook community. I get to talk with local businesses about their story and how they connect with the community. Really excited to be working with these fine folks.

Well, that’s a wrap. Stay tuned for an update on the texting for charity event next week.